Some San Mateo County teens, including disadvantaged, at-risk, and foster youth, are gaining their first work experiences this summer through the county's Jobs For Youth program, which places young adults in summer internships with Peninsula employers in technology, health care, government, and service industries.
While the internships have been filled for the summer, program coordinators say they still have plenty of resources and opportunities available for additional youth, and they're also eager to hear from employers interested in participating.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee recently announced a similar initiative to find jobs and internships for youth this summer. The City's 3-year-old "Summer Jobs+" program hopes to place as many as 7,000 youngsters in jobs or internships, and receives funding from PG&E and several major financial institutions.
Though smaller in scope, San Mateo County's Jobs For Youth initiative has filled 30 available internships from a collection of 95 applicants for a variety of fields. Among the participating employers are Kaiser Permanente, SamTrans, San Francisco International Airport, and the city of Daly City.
Program coordinator Ruby Tomas said the youth interns first go through a short job preparedness workshop where they learn interview skills and the basics of job applications and resumes. They are offered help with composing and printing resumes at PeninsulaWorks offices in Daly City, Belmont and Redwood City. While the job program finds the internship opportunities, Tomas noted that participating youth are expected to contact potential employers and apply for the positions themselves.
Some employers have provided services beyond simply putting the participants to work, Tomas said. At Kaiser Permanent's South San Francisco and Redwood City hospitals, the health care organization holds weekly career days, during which speakers from various departments are invited to talk about how they got into their professions. Tomas noted that some of the kids placed at Kaiser are assisting radiology technicians and learning what that career path entails.
In some cases, employers that don't have available internships have partnered with Jobs For Youth to help in other ways. Tomas said Wal-Mart's San Bruno corporate office provides mock job interviews for job-seeking youth, and also holds a resume contest that awards $500 scholarships to two winners per year.
The youth job project was originally a Daly City initiative, launched by civic leader Al Teglia during one of his terms as mayor of the town. During a 2013 ceremony to commemorate Teglia's long service to the community, then Vice Mayor David Canepa cited Jobs For Youth as one of Teglia's crowning achievements. Although the San Mateo County Human Services Agency (HSA) took over the program in 2001, an endowment fund named in Teglia's honor provides college and vocational school scholarships for participants.
HSA communications manager Effie Verducci said that in addition to Jobs For Youth, the organization also offers the Supported Training and Employment Program (STEP), which provides job opportunities and training for emancipated youth and young adults aging out of the foster care system.
HSA has observed a strong correlation between program participation and college enrollment, Verducci said, adding that interns also tend to have a lower incidence of incarceration. "These are all our kids," said Verducci, "What's good for these kids is what's good for the county."
Teens looking for job opportunities and employers interested in participating in the program are encouraged to contact Tomas at (650) 802-3371.